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Mapping mitochondrial contact sites during neuronal ageing and neurodegeneration in Drosophila

Start date

1st June or 1st October 2023


1 fully funded 4-year NC3Rs PhD studentship, Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, IoPPN


This project is part of ongoing work aimed at advancing our basic understanding of neuronal cell biology with a focus on studying neuronal cargo trafficking during ageing and neurodegeneration. The aim of the project is to study how manipulating mitochondrial dynamics and functionality impacts on neuronal health.

The student will initially focus on characterising the associations that the mitochondria establish with other cellular organelles in the neurons of Drosophila melanogaster and how these structures are affected by ageing in control animals and in animal models of neurodegeneration. The project builds on an exciting collaboration between the laboratory of Dr Alessio Vagnoni (Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, KCL) and the laboratory of Dr Tito Calì (University of Padova, Italy). The successful applicant will be able to use innovative methods to study intracellular transport by coupling powerful genetic tools in Drosophila and advanced methodology for imaging of live neurons.

The post represents a unique opportunity to join a dynamic research group and receive extensive training in Drosophila genetics, advanced microscopy, Drosophila and mammalian cell culture, biochemistry, molecular biology, data analysis. The Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience is located within the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, which has excellent laboratories and access to cutting-edge equipment and core facilities, including start-of-the-art microscopy equipment in the Nikon Imaging Centre.

The position is suitable for a highly motivated, hard-working, positive and collaborative individual who has the ambition to contribute to the scientific progress in the field of neuronal cell biology.

For more details/informal enquiries, please contact Dr Alessio Vagnoni:


Dr Alessio Vagnoni & Dr Frank Hirth 

Entry requirements

Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) a Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit.

Award types and eligibility

Students will be fully funded for four years full time, to include an annual UKRI-level stipend as well as reasearch and some travel costs.

Home tuitions fees covered. Definition of ‘Home’ fees can be found here:

To be treated as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A UK national (meeting residency requirements)
  • Settled status
  • Pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements)
  • Indefinite leave to remain or enter

Applicants that do not qualify for Home tuition fees can still apply for the studentship although they need to be able to self-fund the shortfall (approximately £20,000/year, see also: to cover international tuition fees.

Further information


About the main supervisor’s research group (

About the IoPPN (link to

Studying at the IoPPN (link to

Research degrees at the IoPPN (link to

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT) on Sunday 16th January 2023.

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select Basic and Clinical Neuroscience Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time).

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
  • Details of previous employment - please include your CV
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on thier referees to submit a reference directly to the College after they have submitted thier admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that (1) their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline (i.e. 7 days from application deadline) and (2) that the reference needs to be sent from an institutional email address.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: AV-IoPPN-NC3Rs-23

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set.

You are welcome to email Dr Alessio Vagnoni (supervisor) at for more information regarding the project and studentship.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Education support team at

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Closing date

Monday 16th January 2023


End of January/beginning of February 2023


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